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class 313 train

Photo of a class 313 train posted to Twitter by @TheWestAnglian with the comment "Long live the 313s", to which @andystock22 replied "717s are much better".

The managing director of Thameslink & Great Northern Railways has written to London Assembly Member Joanne McCartney apologising for poor service and disruption to her constituents and assuring her that "there is a great deal of focus by our operations teams on reliability and punctuality". Meanwhile, in the Twittersphere arguments have been raging about whether or not the new trains are better than the old units.

Joanne McCartney published the letter sent to her by the railway company on her Twitter feed. In his reply to her mid-August complaint, Tom Moran blames the problems on "combination of training requirements on the class 717 fleet, a high annual leave period and lower than anticipated demand for overtime affecting this on some days", and lists measures taken to improve the situation, which, he says, "have delivered a positive impact already with traincrew cancellations almost halving over the last seven weeks".

Commenting on the attached letter, Ms McCartney writes that she is continuing to campaign for services to be handed to Transport for London (TfL).

With three quarters of the class 717 trains now in service, regular passengers have been using Twitter to share their opinions about the merits of the new trains versus the old class 313s. Opinion is divided: some prefer the softer seats on the 1970s-vintage trains, others like the air conditioning, better acceleration and next station information. One contributor called for self-driving trains "because your staff never turn up anyway". (To see these comments, click on the blue link under the following tweet.)

Text of letter to Joanne McCartney

Joanne McCartney AM
City Hall
The Queen's Walk
London SE1 2AA
30 August 2019

Dear Joanne.

Thank you for your letter dated 19°' August 2019.

I am sorry that the performance on our Great Northern service has not been to the standard we expect and that our passengers deserve, and for the disruption it has caused to your constituents. We recognise that the level of cancellations related to driver unavailability has been too high with a combination of training requirements on the class 717 fleet, a high annual leave period and lower than anticipated demand for overtime affecting this on some days.

We are focusing on this issue every day to help ensure all our services run as planned and is one of my top priorities since taking over as Managing Director on 1st July. Actions we have recently taken include pausing less pressing training and we have postponed any nonessential activities for drivers to boost the number of drivers available for rota duties. We are also working as quickly as possible to pass out additional trainee divers, and to complete conversion training on the Class 717 fleet and have now we've conpleted training of 158 out of the 169 Metro drivers, so we are nearly at full capacity. These measures have delivered a positive impact already with traincrew cancellations almost halving over the last seven weeks.

This means you and your constituents should see an improvement in your service, though regrettably some cancellations may still arise and in such circumstances, we will provide passengers with as much notice as possible of this so that they can plan ahead and catch a different service.

We are also continuing with the introduction of the new 717 fleet and we now have over two thirds of the new fleet in service, with the expectation that all the new 717s will be in service by the end of October.

The last month has been a challenging period for the service with a number of major infrastructure issues affecting performance (overhead lines coming down, power supply being hit and points and signal failures occurring). However, please be assured that there is a great deal of focus by our operations teams on reliability and punctuality with a view to restoring confidence in the service.

Tom Moran
Managing Director, Thameslink & Great Northern Railways

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Denis Piggott's Avatar
Denis Piggott posted a reply #4804 03 Oct 2019 09:50
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #4805 04 Oct 2019 09:16
Looking at the press release, 44 old units decommissioned (“cascaded out”), so that’s 22 six car trains, and with 25 new ones replacing them it suggests we’re not going to see the promised (?) six trains an hour scenario. It would however be nice to think we will see more weekend trains than currently (are scheduled to) operate.
The old ones have certainly travelled a long way in their 43 year term, 120 times around the earth apparently. Makes me wonder how many times they would have circumnavigated the planet had there been sufficient drivers available all of the time.

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